- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Berkley Trade; Rei Rep edition (September 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425179613
- ISBN-13: 978-0425179611
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 915 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life Paperback – September 1, 2001
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People around the world have found inspiration in the story of Lance Armstrong--a world-class athlete nearly struck down by cancer, only to recover and win the Tour de France, the multiday bicycle race famous for its grueling intensity. Armstrong is a thoroughgoing Texan jock, and the changes brought to his life by his illness are startling and powerful, but he's just not interested in wearing a hero suit. While his vocabulary is a bit on the he-man side (highest compliment to his wife: "she's a stud"), his actions will melt the most hard-bitten souls: a cancer foundation and benefit bike ride, his astonishing commitment to training that got him past countless hurdles, loyalty to the people and corporations that never gave up on him. There's serious medical detail here, which may not be for the faint of heart; from chemo to surgical procedures to his wife's in vitro fertilization, you won't be spared a single x-ray, IV drip, or unfortunate side effect. Athletes and coaches everywhere will benefit from the same extraordinary detail provided about his training sessions--every aching tendon, every rainy afternoon, and every small triumph during his long recovery is here in living color. It's Not About the Bike is the perfect title for this book about life, death, illness, family, setbacks, and triumphs, but not especially about the bike. --Jill Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In 1996, young cycling phenom Armstrong discovered he had testicular cancer. In 1999, he won the Tour de France. Now he's a grateful husband, a new fatherAand a memoirist: with pluck, humility and verve, this volume covers his early life, his rise through the endurance sport world and his medical difficulties. Cancer "was like being run off the road by a truck, and I've got the scars to prove it," Armstrong declares. Earlier scars, he explains, came from a stepfather he casts as unworthy; early rewards, from his hardworking mother and from the triathlons and national bike races Armstrong won as a Texas teen. "The real racing action was over in Europe": after covering that, Armstrong and Jenkins (Men Will Be Boys, with Pat Summit, etc.) ascend to the scarier challenges of diagnoses and surgeries. As he gets worse, then better, Armstrong describes the affections of his racing friends and of the professionals who cared for him. Armstrong is honest and delightful on his relationship to wife Kristin (Kik), and goes into surprising detail about the technology that let them have a child. The memoir concludes with Armstrong's French victory and the birth of their son. The book features a disarming and spotless prose style, one far above par for sports memoirs. Bicycle-racing fans will enjoy the troves of inside information and the accounts of competitions, but Armstrong has set his sights on a wider meaning and readership: "When I was sick I saw more beauty and triumph and truth in a single day than I ever did in a bike race." Agent, Esther Newberg. First serial to Vanity Fair; BOMC main selection; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Holland and Japan. (May 22)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Initially, what jumps out is Lance's scrappy writing style. It's refreshing; I loved that he was unafraid to identify the "father figures" in his life for what they were and were not. His devotion to his mom is pure and true. You can hear it in his narrative. His mom should think about writing a book about her own strength, tenacity, and dedication to being a great mom under very difficult circumstances.
The second striking aspect is the man's amazing anatomy. His physiology and his tolerances for pain are unique. It doesn't hurt that he seemingly manufactures less lactic acid than the rest of us poor sods. However, I was struck by his quest for pain as a pure way to leave all the peripheral interruptions behind and to really focus on his job. That is the one aspect that has stayed with me. One can program one's thinking to see pain as focal point rather than a debilitating distraction. What a powerful and liberating feeling.
His frank and story of the surgery and chemotherapy are gut wrenching (literally!) As well, the reader definitely wants the happy ending and is thus rewarded in this biography. His personal reflections of his emotional, physical and spiritual transformations after the cancer motivate this reader to cheer all the more. Good on ya Lance! You make July mornings at 6:00am (PDT) must see tv in this household.
I think there is a wide cross-section of readers who will find many parts of this book totally absorbing. As for me, I love reading about cycling tactics and the drama that unfolds in and around the pro peloton. There are many details about cycling in this book. (Though, of his TDF victories, only the first is described in full. The 2000 tour is described in an "Encore" chapter.) Among the most interesting to me were the few pages about a heated topic that is rarely addressed by the parties involved -- Armstrong's sponsors -- which companies vowed unconditional support, and which company all but abandonned.
Though I didn't expect to find details about cancer and its treatment as interesting as the cycling details, that part of the story is among the most inspirational. It provides another example of Armstrong's intensely competitive nature and astonishing capacity to remain confident in the face of unthinkable pain, suffering, and adversity. In Armstrong's narrative, the story reads like that of some insane, year-long time-trial, cooked up by TDF organizers just to see if Lance will crack.
Finally, perhaps Armstrong's greatest strength as an autobiographer is his willingness to candidly describe his weakest and most desperate hours.
"The absolute ...is a treacherous place to seek lessons. By definition, it does not yield. Like the God of Exodus, it is what it is and it shall be what it shall be. For that reason, the absolute is useless as metaphor. It is incomparable."
Cancer is an incomparable occurrence in anyone's life, as nonsensical as an asteroid strike. There is no way to compare it by any standard of fairness, humanity, or reason. But there is great value in adapting, growing and becoming stronger. Lance says that in the face of adversity, the concept of acting heroically and the strategy of plea bargaining soon resonate with the thud of pewter. Simple, definitive action gets the job done. Los Angeles psychiatrist Robert J. Elstad says, "We experience ourselves by what we do." Lance Armstrong says, "Move." A fascinating glimpse into the life of an excellent member of our species.